George Russell won his first Grand Prix on Sunday after a difficult race in Brazil.
Russell, who won Saturday’s sprint race to start on pole, led from the opening lap, showing why he is considered one of Formula 1’s most exciting prospects.
Behind him however, a wild ride was unfolding with crashes from the opening lap, including a close encounter between rivals Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, for which Verstappen was given a five-second penalty.
At the end of all the drama, it was a Mercedes one-two with Hamilton finishing second behind Russell and Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz third.
With one race remaining on the 2022 calendar, Russell moves up to fourth in the drivers’ standings, one place ahead of eight-time world champion and team-mate Hamilton.
“What an amazing feeling. A big thank you to the whole team for making this possible,” Russell said afterwards. “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster this season.
“This race, I felt in control. Lewis was super fast, and when I saw the safety car I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is going to be a really tough ending. He put so much pressure on me. But so happy to walk away with the win.
“I’m speechless, on the lap, all of these memories kind of come flooding back, starting with my mum and dad in karting, and going through all the support I’ve had from the rest of my family, my girlfriend, my coach, my manager. I can’t thank them enough. Yeah, super proud.
The race began with spectacular and crash-ridden opening laps at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace.
First, Daniel Ricciardo slammed into the back of Kevin Magnussen, with both riders ruled out for the remainder of the race due to damage sustained.
After the safety car restart, all hell broke loose.
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen collided soon after, both spinning. Hamilton was able to continue without stopping while Verstappen was forced to stop before coming back into the race near the back of the field.
“It wasn’t a racing incident, mate,” Hamilton could be heard saying on his team radio.
Minutes later, it was announced that Verstappen had been handed a five-second penalty for causing a collision.
The Dutch driver could not hide his disbelief when informed of the outcome of the investigation. “Where did they expect me to go?” he said.
Elsewhere, McLaren driver Lando Norris collided with Charles Leclerc, slamming the Ferrari driver into the barriers.
Leclerc was forced into the pits to change his front wing, while Norris was also handed a five-second penalty for his involvement in the crash.
As for Russell, who started the race on pole, he remained unscathed during the first laps and managed to maintain his lead for the rest of the course in front of the chasing pack.
Even with a late safety car that regrouped the field, Russell was quicker than his more experienced team-mate Hamilton, heading home for his first ever Grand Prix victory.
Victory in the penultimate race of the 2022 season continues Mercedes’ year-end resurgence after a very slow start.